From customer surveys and maintenance checks to incident reporting, the inspection process typically involves a lot of paper work. The advantages of going digital are hard to ignore – higher efficiency, better integration with other processes, less likelihood of papers getting lost, better searchability of data, and many others.
If you decided to take the digital plunge and are searching for a solution to adequately replace paper once and for all, we have prepared a list of considerations that will help you make your choice.
Essentials & Nice-to-have’s
What should your solution definitely include? Since “inspection” is a very broad term, some capabilities might be more or less important, depending on the case. Still, we came up with a list of features we consider the most useful.
- Offline mode
We may live on the verge of 5G, but chances are your workers are going to regularly visit places without proper internet connection, such as warehouses, underground parking lots, offshore powerplants, historical buildings, etc.
The option to include pictures, audio, or video documentation should be a given.
The option to add legally-binding signatures is sometimes a must, without which the company can’t actually switch from paper to digital.
- GPS stamps and the option to check-in and check-out
The proof of your inspector being on site.
- Barcode scanning
Although not a must-have, the option to quickly search for products or spare parts is a useful feature that speeds up processes and minimizes human error.
Questions to consider when choosing your tool
1. What backend do you use?
How are you storing or planning to store your data? Do you opt for a stand-alone cloud solution that wouldn’t require additional considerations regarding data storage, or do you want to integrate your solution with another systems? This will heavily influence your decision. For example, if you utilize a CRM-based system, you might benefit from a software that is built on similar logic and works well with entities such as Contacts or Appointments.
2. Who will be creating and managing your forms?
If you want your forms to be created and updated by managers, team leads, i.e. people who know the business side of things, instead of IT admins, pick a solution that doesn’t require coding skills and allows you to adjust the solution without tampering with metadata.
3. What kind and number of forms will you be designing?
Let’s talk about the actual forms you will be preparing and using.
- Are the forms long?
- Are they complex, with sections or even whole papers that get skipped based on the situation, i.e. do you need business logic?
- Do you require a slightly different form for each product model?
- Could you benefit from inheritance systems once you move to digital?
- Do you need to maintain your forms in more than one language?
Consider all these questions, try out product demos and choose a solution that allows to design forms, organize them, and make changes easily.
4. What kind of reports do you need?
So, you have designed your questionnaire, assigned it to a field inspector, who collected the data and sent it back for evaluation. What happens now depends on your end goal. Do you want easy to read dashboards and overviews that will give you the gist of it without losing too much time on configuration? Or do you need custom reports, option to go through the answers one by one, or tools for some serious data crunching? Consider this when choosing your solution as well. You don’t want to end up with a software you have to constantly bend to get the answers you need.
5. Last but not least: What about end users?
The app that will be used by the inspectors to carry out the task will probably consist of more than just a list a questionnaires. Think about your end users, their workflow and work circumstances. Do they use phones, tablets, or laptops? Do they have easy access to contact information and addresses? Once they arrive on site, does the app guide them through the inspection? Since you are already providing them with an app with a list of their appointments, do you also want to include an option to request absence? Or do you want any other special functionality?
Based on your case you might want to choose a solution that doesn’t just allow you to design the forms, but configure the actual app as well.
So, what mobile inspection tool is the best? As with most things in life, the answer is “it depends”. To find the right fit, you have to carefully go through your process, from form design to data analysis, and identify your key needs. The biggest mistake is to consider only one part of the process and then choose a solution that is difficult to incorporate with the remaining parts. E.g. a solution that might work great for the back office, but is hard to manage or even unusable for your workers in the field. We hope the five questions above will help you avoid this mistake and make an informed decision.
Resco Inspections: A powerful solution that adapts to you
Resco has recently announced its own tool for field inspections. Resco Inspections offers:
- a powerful questionnaire designer with a vast array of question types and business logic, that will allow you to bring even hundreds of forms into the digital form with ease
- native integration into Dynamics 365 and Salesforce, or an API for integration into other 3rd party solutions
- a fully customizable Inspector app for your mobile workers, capable of running in full offline mode
- and more!